The Foundation’s 2011 event, held at Deacons, to present Lee Fook Chee’s photographic collection. Lee, right, looks at himself on screen – the young photographer.

 

‘Asia has an extraordinary record in early photography. Much of the heritage of historical photography in Asia was made by foreign photographers, for foreign audiences. The promotion of indigenous photographers in the Foundation’s coming projects is of the utmost importance. I am consistently impressed by the originality and immaculate professionalism of the Foundation’s projects.’

Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Australia, 1996 – 2014

The Foundation believes there is a pressing need to preserve and communicate Asia’s photographic heritage. These historical photographs, rich in diversity and revealing in the mirror they hold up to fast changing Asian societies, are a precious and sometimes endangered record. As the Foundation’s photo collection discoveries – both planned and serendipitous – show, many of these images are in archives scattered across the world. Others lie undiscovered in homes and private collections, or in the hands of the photographers who actually created the images.

Very few of Asia’s historical photos have had the exposure that they and their often unknown creators deserve. Yet such images illuminate, better than anything else, how Asia’s past has created its present.

The images of Hedda Morrison, who photographed in China, Hong Kong, Sarawak and India from 1933 to 1967, epitomize the gulf between existing and published images. Of her remarkable body of negatives, only a tiny fraction have ever been published. Or consider the Hong Kong photographer Lee Fook Chee, who died in 2012. Hardly educated, unable to publish his work, nonetheless he held his cherished negative and print record of 1950s Hong Kong – one man’s legacy. The Foundation is proud to have published Hedda Morrison’s and Lee Fook Chee’s Hong Kong images, fulfilling our objective to seek out unknown photographs and communicate them through books, exhibitions and online.

The photographs presented elsewhere on this website, at Planned Books, represent only a small part of the photo collections the Foundation has already researched. These cover numerous parts of Asia – South, Southeast and North. They are a fraction of the Asian photos held in archives and private collections.